Student Success Stories


If you attended this year’s gala, you heard some party tunes played by this amazing married alumni duo, Stafford (‘05) and Becca (‘98) Christensen. Read more about their musical journey from high school to their latest project


From living in the SCLA dormitory to traveling abroad, Laura Gehlhar (‘08) has had the opportunity to interact with and learn from people from many cultures. Today she continues to grow in those experiences while teaching English learners at a public school and traveling both for mission work and enjoyment.

King, Billy SCLA 2007

Billy King (‘07) is a pastor at Good Shepherd in Cedar Rapids and North Liberty, Iowa. In 2021, the campus in North Liberty was blessed with a second pastor, and they had their grand opening at the North Liberty Campus in 2022. Billy reflects on fun times at SCLA, being encouraged to go into ministry, and how animals have played a welcoming role at his church.

Brent Schact with Grandson

Brent Schacht has been a regular face around SCLA since starting teaching here in 1992. He’s always got a story and shares his love of sports (“Can I get a Crusader?!”) and the teaching ministry.


Veteran, MMA fighter, martial arts teacher… pie baker. Benjamin Neumann (‘04) is a man of many, perhaps surprising, talents. He shares his story of how all these parts of his life came together.


Tammie Eichmann (‘86) recently came back to SCLA to speak in Mr. Plath’s Applied Financial Mathematics class about careers in accounting. We loved hearing her path from SCLA to adulthood and going back to college in her thirties.

George, Kirsten (Kowitz) '11

Kirsten (Kowitz) George (‘11) completed her teaching degree and soon after moved to St. Lucia to teach at an international school. During her time there, she met her husband Casey. They have since moved back to the states, and she now serves as the Children’s Ministry Director at NorthCross Church in Lakeville. Kirsten shares her journey from SCLA to today.


Martin Guldberg (‘91) and his wife Melissa have four children that attend or recently graduated from SCLA. This family shares the love of Jesus wherever they go! Read more about Martin’s time in high school and his thankfulness for Christian education.

Michelle Wirth 2009

SCLA is excited to welcome Kaitlin Rupprecht (Adsit ‘16) to the Mission Advancement Team! Kaitlin was our school study hall supervisor and attendance secretary last year, and as a fairly recent alumna, she brings a wealth of knowledge, school culture, and personal experience to her new role as Manager of Alumni Relations. Get to know Kaitlin!

Michelle Wirth 2009

If you attended the SCLA 2022 Gala in April, you may remember the beautiful photos taken by Michelle Wirth Photography. It’s wonderful to see St. Croix alumni using their talents and passions! Michelle Wirth (Enger ‘09) shares about St. Croix’s impact on her, how she found her way into photography, and what she’s learned from international travel.


As a pastor’s kid, Paul Huebner (‘00) grew up around St. Croix even before his high school years. He reflects on the importance of his Christian education and how he will encourage future pastors and teachers through his new football coaching role at Martin Luther College.

Crystal Carmichael ('14)

Crystal Carmichael (‘14) and her family have been familiar faces around St. Croix for years. Crystal and her three sisters all attended SCLA and lived in the dorm. After obtaining her teaching degree from Martin Luther College, Crystal returned to SCLA to teach and serve as a dorm supervisor! Crystal shares her experience in the SCLA ministry from different contexts and how God prepared her for her current role in Florida.

Bierbert, Camryn 2017 on swing in Equador.

Camryn Biebert (‘17) is a world traveler currently using her Spanish skills to spread the gospel through Academia Cristo. She shares how SCLA prepared her for mission work abroad and next year in Wisconsin.

Bierbert, Camryn 2017 on swing in Equador.

Camryn Biebert (‘17) is a world traveler currently using her Spanish skills to spread the gospel through Academia Cristo. She shares how SCLA prepared her for mission work abroad and next year in Wisconsin.

Ade Murkey Sacramento Kings

Ade Murkey (‘16) plays guard for the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Sacramento Kings G-League affiliate Stockton Kings. When he recently received a 10-day contract with the Sacramento Kings, he became the first St. Croix graduate to appear in an NBA game.

Tim and Rich Holen

Tim Holen (‘71) and Rich Holen (‘66) are brothers and co-owners of St. Francis True Value who fondly recall their time at St. Croix where they learned the power of Christian education, ministry, and friendships. Their business is one of SCLA’s generous business partners. 


We caught up with Garett Maag (‘18) who is a Division-I student athlete at University of North Dakota. He plays wide receiver for FCS (1-AA) North Dakota out of the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Read about his SCLA football story and what led him to continue playing in college. 

Black and white photo of parents with four children

Jessie (Bilitz) Polzin learned the value of showing Christian love in high school and took that mindset to serve at the Esperanza Viva Youth Home in Puebla, Mexico. Read more about her work as an occupational therapist and how God connected her with the right people at the right time.


Parker Lewis (‘21) came to SCLA in 7th grade as an apprehensive middle school student in need of a change. Although he “cried his eyes out” when he came to shadow, he left laughing and joyful after immediately connecting with new friends. Now graduated, he is preparing for his future as a Christian teacher. His testimony is one of God’s unwavering grace, love, and provision, and a must-read.



Over the past few months, Nick Krueger (‘05), an aide to representative Terry Katsma (Sheboygan County, Wisconsin), has had a wild ride in his run for office in the Wisconsin State Assembly. Nick shares about the SCLA teachers that impacted and prepared him, his run for office, and his hobby of restoring their historic home. 


Jared Joyal (‘17) is a recent graduate who has taken his creativity, attention to detail, and gaming hobby to the next level by landing a job at Epic Games where he helps develop the popular online video game Fortnite.

Wade Shult, Leah Sonnenburg, Madylin Mielke

College life can be a bit tricky to manage, but then combine it with a pandemic and things get even harder. We caught up with two recent SCLA alumni who are currently studying at Martin Luther College in New Ulm, MN and are learning how to hold on to patience, hope, and faith. Wade Shult (‘16) is a senior looking forward to his first teaching assignment and getting married in just a few weeks. Madylin Mielke (‘19) is a sophomore who is looking forward to summer with family and friends and returning to SCLA to coach summer basketball camp.


Kristen (Scislow ‘05) and Bryan Budahn (‘05) have had their share of adventures since their time in high school at SCLA. From delivering babies to brewing beer to climbing mountains around the world, the Budahns took their passions and ran with them. Read on for how the pandemic has affected their careers and how they’ve done their best to make the most of every situation.

Perry and Bev Abel - a couple in their early 60s who have a passion for the ministry of SCLA and who are both SCLA alumni

There are two unexpected residents in the St. Croix Lutheran Academy dormitory - Perry and Bev Abel - a couple in their early 60s who have a passion for the ministry of SCLA and who are both SCLA alumni (Perry ’76 and Bev ’78).

Charlie "Chuck" Wiplinger, SCLA Alumnus 1998 SQ

Charlie (Chuck) Wiplinger (‘98) is the CEO/President of Wipaire, Inc. in South St. Paul, Minnesota. Over the years, Chuck has shared his knowledge of aviation engineering with SCLA STEM students both at his business and in the SCLA classroom.

Loren Kosloske (‘10)

In just ten years, Loren Kosloske has gone from learning in the classrooms of SCLA to working as a a Senior Strategy and Operations Manager at Uber in Seattle. The pandemic has called on everyone to adapt, including Loren’s work at the ride-share company. Loren answered some questions for us about what he’s been up to and shares his hopes for more SCLA alumni to mentor current students.

Stanley Chan SCLA Alumnus 2007

On October 23, 2020, alumnus Kai Tai (Stanley) Chan shared his SCLA story with students via a recorded conversation with SCLA Pastor David Huebner. 

Elizabeth (Birkholz) Walters ('98)

This alumna returns to her alma mater every Wednesday to counsel students through the highs and lows of school, relationships, and life in a pandemic.

Tyler Wood SCLA Class of 2013

Tyler Wood (‘13) is an avid golfer and sandwich shop owner who loves his alma mater and keeps giving back.

Andrew Tiarks ('13)

As an independent financial advisor, Andy has worked the last five years at Tiarks, Becker, and Hackett Financial based out of Pine Island, Minnesota. Andy has served at SCLA as a volunteer head throwing coach for the Crusader track and field team, and he has served as an assistant football coach. He took part in 2019 Career Day at SCLA by explaining his role in the finance industry and answering student questions.

SCLA Alumnus Gunther Grinde serves the state of Nebraska in their COVID testing labs.

Gunther Grinde is conducting critical testing to identify the novel coronavirus as part of the state of Nebraska’s Test Nebraska initiative.

Craig Laurence Rice 1969

As part of Black History Month, entertainment executive, artist, teacher, entrepreneur, and market executive Craig Laurence Rice returned to his alma mater .

Nhae Nhae Pasahanunwut 2019

At this small Minnesota school with international connections, Nae Nhae found friends from America, Brazil, Eritrea, Nigeria and Turkey.

Kevin Branson Jr. '13

4:13 Athletics is a non-profit organization that was launched in July 2018 as a way to impact youth in the Twin Cities. Founder Kevin Branson, class of 2013, along with other SCL alumni saw a growing need in the community and acted on it. 

Sonnenburg Family

The Sonnenburgs are one of those wonderful families who have seen the value of Christian education in their own lives, passed that on to their children, and keep coming back to serve at their alma mater. Gary (‘88) and Cami (‘87) enjoyed their time at SCL and have two daughters who also graduated in the last few years- Kalli (‘14) and Leah (‘17).

Trever Koester '15

Since graduating from UW-Stout in May 2018, Trever has been employed full time at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul as a clinical research coordinator. He still attends his home congregation at Salem Lutheran Church in Stillwater where he also teaches Sunday school.

Danny Wegner '09

Wegner’s music, digital media, and people skills would be put to use after college as he founded the Wegner Music Academy to offer private music lessons in connection to ministry at SCLA association member Bethlehem Lutheran Church (now Northcross) in Lakeville, MN.

Alisha Johnson '84

Alisha Johnson, class of 1984, used her energy and passion for learning to work her way up in the banking and marketing world, and is now Executive Vice President of Operations at Ideal Credit Union. She is a shining example of finding a way to do what you love - sports, music, writing, government, and business - while still preparing for a satisfying career.

Cathy Tao '99 Baptism

To add to her many blessings, Cathy was baptized in the SCL chapel on April 10, 2018. She wanted to come back to the place where she was introduced to Christianity for this special sacrament. “Since being introduced to God by St. Croix, I have personally witnessed the power of the Lord everywhere I went, in every country and continent. He always led the way to where I am, and now it’s time for me to declare to the world my belief of Him through baptism. I cannot think of a better place to do it except St. Croix.”

Zach (‘13) and Jennie ('14 Scislow) Haugen

After being married in the St. Croix Lutheran chapel in June 2018, Zach and Jennie moved to Kansas City, Missouri. Zach is a public accountant at KPMG, auditing financial statements for mid to large sized companies, and Jennie is an interior designer at Crawford Architects, specializing in the design of sports stadiums and arenas.

Kory Henkel, Class of 2019, Music Executive

Director of Marketing and Communication at Capitol Christian Music Group who works alongside incredible artists like Jason Gray, Unspoken, Andrew Peterson, Lauren Daigle, Jordan Feliz, and Apollo LTD. 

Jason Bao 2019 Science Lab

Jason Bao’s first visit to the U.S. was a summer English camp in Connecticut at age 14. He enjoyed the freedom, and after camp when his parents in Shanghai asked he’d like to attend American high school, Jason said, “Yes!”